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Pasadena pupils won't wear uniforms next year, either

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Parents at Pasadena Fundamental Elementary do not have uniform feelings about uniforms.

That means children at the school will not be wearing them next year.

Of 350 parents who returned surveys, only 143 or 45.8 percent wanted mandatory school uniforms. That's 120 parents short of the 75 percent needed for the school to ask the Pinellas County School Board for permission to require uniforms.

"This issue is now dead," said David Doss, head of the Pasadena school advisory council. "The vote is very clear."

That vote breaks with a trend being set by some other Pinellas public schools.

Last year, parents at Azalea Elementary School in St. Petersburg voted to become the first to mandate uniforms. The children there wear light blue shirts and navy pants or skirts to school every day.

Azalea pupils are not the only ones wearing uniforms this year.

Two discipline programs _ North Ward in St. Petersburg and Safety Harbor _ started requiring uniforms this year.

Marjorie K. Rawlings in Pinellas Park and Norwood and Fairmount Park in St. Petersburg Elementary made uniforms optional this year. Earlier this month, Rawlings got permission from the Pinellas County School Board for the navy pants and skirts and white tops to be mandatory next year.

Azalea principal Brenda Clark has said that uniforms have helped reduce discipline problems at her school. They also help pupils concentrate more on their studies than on others' appearance.

The lure of better behavior and higher achievement did not convince Pasadena parents.

Pasadena is a fundamental school that requires parents to sign contracts agreeing to attend all PTA meetings, teacher conferences and sign all homework. Student scores are among the highest in the district.

The school already has a stricter dress code because shorts are not allowed. In addition, there are few discipline problems because children can be expelled for not obeying the rules.

"I'm trying to figure out what problems they're fixing," said Debi Lanning, a parent.

Besides, she said, the trend across America is for more casual dress and a departure from the corporate uniform of suits, ties, skirts and dresses. Lanning said it is those same parents who are abandoning corporate uniforms who are voting to put their children in uniforms.

"To me, if you're at all a thinking and intelligent adult, I don't see how you can vote for uniforms," Lanning said. "We are not a private school. We are a public school. I cannot believe you can mandate uniforms in public school."